(Continued from yesterday)
Both the Democratic Labour Party and Barbados Labour Party, since the early 1990s, have provided adequate detail in context of the shifting balances between private and public sectors, between market and the state, and with the rapidity of flows of ideas, people, capital, and technologies among countries.
None of the political parties while in government has implemented widespread structural changes, barring the introduction of VAT and some other forms of economic tinkering which served to limit monopolistic behaviours as in the telecommunications industry. Political retardation was more than likely due to a probable fall-out with an uninformed public. The political party became more inclined towards political expediency, than implementing effective macroeconomic reforms.
Quite recently, reports emerging in the local media in Barbados are suggesting that a Minister of Finance has boldly confessed to the country that an unsustainable situation has developed in the management of the economy. The DLP-led Administration has to borrow money on a monthly basis in order to pay for several thousands of workers in the public sector. This situation runs counter to the advice and petitions espoused by Errol Barrow through his engagements with Barbadians and their self-perceptions and expectations.
Yes, it was Barrow who asked “what kind of mirror image do you have of yourself? When a government steals from people in the way of consumption taxes and takes that money and spends it on their own high lifestyles, and unnecessary buildings, then that government not only has contempt for you, but what is most unfortunate, you have contempt for yourself, because you allow them to do it.”
Is the current DLP Administration so contemptuous that it must be dismal in performance but hasty in departure from the types of ideals that Barrow and others articulated and worked to achieve in a post-independence Barbados?
Yet, as Barrow has warned in the mirror image spectre, he does “not want to see my country go down the drain”. Without encouraging Barbadians to express their concerns, acknowledge their doubts, deal head-on with difficult issues, what kind of mirror image does the current leadership of the DLP or any future leader has for the people and country of Barbados?
Why does it seem as if the DLP administration is reneging from its duty to the memory of the founding father of the DLP? Can the DLP using its mirror image of itself say emphatically to Barbadians that it continues to inspire, encourage, and influence national reflection, participation, and actual contributions to building the Barbados nation-state?
Will the political parties reach consensus on the fact that Barbados and Barbadian people have reached a hazardous fork in the road to national progress and sustained development? Will it take a rejuvenated Owen Arthur to embrace the people once again with the BLP’s habitual readiness to rescue Barbados out of difficulties?
In the aftermath of Independence Day 2012, and with a general election looming, will there be any critical debates in the offering? Will the tough debates be initiated and tackled by the DLP or is such a request a political trap awaiting Arthur and his BLP team once they dare to discuss in public possible changes and alternative policies for progressing Barbados?
Will the main stakeholders inclusive of civil society, trade unions, and the citizens call the DLP and, to a paralleled extent, the BLP to account for the state of affairs in Barbados? Are Barbadians fully aware that all local and international voices have already stated that it cannot be business as usual regardless of which political party forms the next government in Barbados? Who will present a new or revitalised mirror image that can direct Barbados’ national development for the next few years?
Barbados faces a host of extremely difficult economic circumstances that will require unfathomable and incisive cuts in state expenditure. The notion of a political leader communicating with the nation becomes necessary and a deed to be admired. Barrow was avant-garde when he suggested that similar to countries such as Singapore, the Barbadian people could realise through introspection, and because “they have self-respect … a desire to move their country forward by their own devices”.
Barrow, in other words, was saying that national development in Barbados would require especially in tough and volatile circumstances the polity’s self-confidence.
Self-confidence remains a necessary ingredient for national progress. It is one of the main condiments that leaders use to stoke the passions of a country’s people in order to motivate and inspire the collective consciousness; it is this hands-on leadership that a nation needs in difficult times in order to achieve the national objectives. Once again, this substance that is traceable to the mirror image dialogue that Errol Barrow used to engage his people is lost by the current crop of DLP members.
The DLP since 2008 has relied more on serendipity that on rational and pragmatic reasoning for advancing Barbados through difficult recessionary economic and financial times. The words pride and industry should be about Barbados’ self-characterisations, and the imagery of working together for a greater good.
There are symbolisms that are deducible from Barrow’s discursive reflection on Barbados’ mirror image. This is a precondition for accepting the roles that responsibility and self-confidence will play in any current and future mobilisations of the people for the express purpose of national development.
Frantz Fanon once said that “the mobilisation of the masses, when it arises out of the war of liberation, introduces into each man’s consciousness the ideas of a common cause, of a national destiny and of a collective history”.
Independence, and all that it entails such as sovereignty and self-determination, confirms Barrow’s attempt to trust the people through enlightenment. Since Independence, and consistent with the mirror image depictions that Errol Barrow provided, Barbadians have been inspired to follow the likes of Tom Adams, Sir Harold St. John, Sir Lloyd Sandiford, Owen Arthur, and David Thompson. To indicate that Barbadians believe themselves less ably led today is arguable; perhaps Freundel Stuart is cut from a different cloth and he is afraid to ask the hard questions that may help determine the mirror image of a new and bountiful Barbados.